Project Background & Support Needed

Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas

Project Background

Indigenous peoples are the original stewards of wild nature and the world’s biocultural diversity. Their Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), wisdom and understanding of complex ecosystems have long supported abundant economies based on reciprocity, a balance between taking and giving. Though Indigenous peoples total only 5% of the world’s population, they are currently the stewards of at least the same amount of wild nature as all regional and national governments and conservation organizations combined, holding traditional land claims for as much as 24%, or 36 million square kilometers, of the Earth’s surface. Moreover, Indigenous peoples inhabit more than 85% of the world’s protected areas, including many marine. These territories span most of the last remaining biodiversity rich wilderness areas and most of the major conservation priorities for this century. Despite this history and current reality, Indigenous peoples have often been left out of the nature conservation equation, much to their detriment and that of global nature conservation. This is beginning to change and needs to change even more.

As development pressures mount on the world’s last remaining wild lands and seas, many of which are inhabited by or under the stewardship of Indigenous Peoples, it is ever more essential that conservation and Indigenous agendas come together for the protection of all life. Achieving this involves a substantial shift in the approach of wild nature conservation.

Kayapo children

Historically, “mainstream” nature conservation has developed with little regard to the needs, wisdom, or rights of Indigenous Peoples, their traditional land claims, and the more subjective but very important interdependence of culture, people, place and prosperity. WILD understands the importance and timeliness of correcting this legacy. For our purposes, when we speak of wilderness, we mean both capital “W,” when such areas are defined by law, as well as lower case “w,” which includes all manner of biologically intact (as much as possible) lands and seascapes of varying land-use designations including Indigenous Protected Areas, Tribal Conservation Areas, Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAS), World Heritage Sites, and many more.

Building on WILD’s 40-year history of collaboration with Indigenous partners and community land stewards, The WILD Foundation is taking a leading role for this through the Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas program (ICLS). ICLS is an essential, contributing member of a growing global movement to protect and preserve the last remaining wild places on this Earth which, in most cases, have been stewarded and protected by Indigenous Peoples that have co-existed with them for time immemorial.

ICLS provides an umbrella of support for WILD’s on-the-ground work with Indigenous communities, traditional peoples and communities and, supports direct representation in relevant international fora, promotes intertribal knowledge exchange, partnerships across traditional disciplines, and opportunities for healing and reconciliation. In some cases, ICLS/WILD can also enter into mutually beneficial Collaborative Conservation Agreements that can include fiscal sponsorship for Indigenous-led and collaborative projects supporting Indigenous interests and the protection of wild nature.

Support Needed

We work collaboratively and are an open and growing network. We need your input, participation and financial and other contributions to continue this good work. Collaboration and support are welcome, needed and appreciated.

By supporting the Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas program area, funders and allies can help ensure that the wisdom, narratives, TEK and biocultural stewardship/management practices of the world’s Indigenous Peoples and local communities are honored and play a more decisive role in protecting biocultural and biological diversity and wild nature for the generations to come.

Thank you for your consideration and any contribution you can make.